Ülker wins all the matches

I was one of the many spectators in Geneva who witnessed that crazy excitement, that anxiety, that (I won’t say hopelessness) disappointment, and later that magnificent joy. I was there as Ülker's guest. We were behind by 2-0 in European Championship, we defeated the Czechs. All the Turkish and world media organizations, television networks and radio stations were talking about “that match” and the “Mad Turks”. That’s really all I have to say about the match.

I’m watching the match, sitting in the Stade de Geneve, in the 22nd row of the R block. There was an excited family with a 10 year old boy in front of me.  When Nihat scored our third goal in the 90th minute, the husband and wife embraced each other with joy. The young buy, their son, cried “Gooooooaaallll! And threw himself on my neck. I doubt I will ever forget that moment when “our hearts beat as one” and everyone was united by happiness.  Forget about the match with the Czechs for now and let’s have a look at the “sports economy”. During our Swiss adventure, we were hosted by Director Zuhal Şeker and the members of the Ülker Corporate Communications team, Bahar Erbengi, Hande Ertan, Yurdanur Semerci, Hakan Artış, Hakan Aydınol and Sevan Kılıçyan, plus our guide, Nadir Bingöl.  They made us very comfortable and made sure that we had access to any kind of information we could want.  The announcement that Ülker Corporate Communications Director Zuhal Şeker made broadened our horizons. I don’t know why, but I used to think that “sponsorship organization” was quite useless. I had perceived it only as an “investment in a brand name”. In fact, sport contributes a great deal to both organizations and the economy of the country.

Euro 2008 was an extremely beneficial event for the host countries, Switzerland and Austria.  Ülker conducted a fascinating study. The source they used was SportEconAustria and Rütter & Partner, A Study on behalf of the UEFA and Swiss Football Association in teamwork with the institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), Vienna. EURO 2008 put 321 million Euros in the coffers of the Austrian economy and created employment for 6,000 people. There was a 1 million increase in the demand for hotel accommodation. EURO 2008 contributed 320 million Euros to the Swiss economy. Nearly 3,800 jobs were created. In other words, 640 million Euros were injected into the combined economies of the two countries.  The event contributed 1.4 billion Euros to the European economy. The games played in the C division alone, between France and Italy, Holland and France and Italy and Holland brought in 168 million Euros. In a sense, sport is a money-making machine. Have you noticed that Ülker contributes a great deal to any sporting event that takes place in Turkey? Ülker Corporate Communications Director Zuhal Şeker says that there are “three main motives for investing in sport”.

1- To contribute to the health of the next generation by fostering active participation in sports, 2- To increase the recognizability of a brand name, 3-  To create a close bond with consumers and to be a “beloved brand”. They have already achieved this purpose.  As for recognizability of the brand, “ the most recognizable brand names”, Ülker is in 2nd place. Ülker placed first in the list of “most loved” brands and puts great importance on establishing an emotional bond with its customers.  An Ülker product, Cola Turka, placed 11th in the same list of most recognizable brands.  In football, National Team main sponsor Ülker also sponsors Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor. In basketball, it also supports these four large teams as a sponsor. So, does any of the support that Ülker provides come back as an “advantage” for the group?  Does it ever. I listed them above.

From the aspect of brand name recognizability, in the carbonated beverages category, Cola Turka, in its short 5 year history, has surpassed 100 year old companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi and placed 2nd on the list of “most recognized” brands. Ülker Corporate Communications Director Zuhal Şeker says, "Ülker is working to encourage people of all ages to adopt a new lifestyle through sports."  To this end, Ülker invests 38 million dollars in Turkish sport each year.

Ülker began its love affair with sports when it established Ülkerspor in 1975 and became its biggest supporter. It’s getting back its money’s worth.  Sowing seeds makes for a bountiful harvest.  Ülker is applying that principle very well.

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